Long Posts

    🎉🎂 Celebrate my birthday, Bastille Day, with me by engaging with French stuff! 🇫🇷🗼

    It’s my birthday on Sunday! As my birthday is Bastille Day and this is the second birthday I’ve had since going to France and confirming that I do love it as much as I thought I would, I’m celebrating with French stuff, like crêpes. If you want to party in my honor, here are some options:

    Thanks for celebrating with me!

    How do I decide what to feature in the Discover tab on Micro.blog?

    Disclaimer: This is not an official Micro.blog communication. Just me explaining my process. And it’s all rather stream-of-consciousness.

    Hey! I thought some increased transparency about what goes in the Discover tab might be helpful. There is some info in the help forum but as Discover is curated by humans, there are some idiosyncrasies beyond what you’ll see there, depending on who’s doing the curation.

    Here are the things you’re likely to notice an uptick in when I’m curating:

    • Pet photos
    • Parenting stuff
    • Jokes

    I try to rarely highlight my own posts because doing so feels icky to me. I do try to feature announcements from Manton about the service.

    On the screen I use for curation in the backend, I can see how many times someone’s posts have been featured in the past week, how many times they’ve been featured ever, how many replies a post has received, and how many posts a user has ever made. As I understand it, Jean, Manton, and Vincent worked together to create this interface.

    I try not to feature anyone who has already been featured 4 or more times in a week. I try to feature people who have rarely been featured or are new to Micro.blog.

    I feature things I think are funny, photos I think look extra cool, questions that might start a conversation, and posts that explicitly are from a new user saying they’re new.

    I try to prioritize inclusion, highlighting women of any race or ethnicity, BIPOC of any gender, posts about queer experiences including trans experiences, and posts about disability experiences.

    Micro.blog skews the way a lot of tech spaces skew: cis, het, white, male, able-bodied. Inclusion has been a growing edge for Micro.blog for a long time. I do what I can to promote it within the scope of my role, but the work is bigger than me. I know members of the community have been talking about this for a long time. I can advocate for it but I am not the inflection point for it. I hope it will be a priority for the service going forward but that’s a Manton decision, not a Kimberly decision.

    While I’m not here for toxic positivity, I do try to focus on joy and information on the Discover timeline, rather than partisanship or criticism. If I feature a political post, it’ll be about a specific issue that crosses partisan divides, such as the importance of voting. On Juneteenth, I highlighted posts that wished people a happy Juneteenth and also information about the history of the day. Likewise for Pride month. When I feature something related to religion, it’s usually a big theological question or textual analysis, not evangelical.

    As is policy, I rarely feature photos that don’t have alt text. Please use alt text! So many of you share cool photos without it and it makes me sad.

    All of this stuff is specifically about how I curate. Manton and Vincent aren’t me, so they naturally curate differently than I do.

    I hope this has been helpful to hear about.

    Here’s a final disclaimer that this post is an explainer from Kimberly, not an official Micro.blog communication.

    🍿I'm so glad I watched Jim Henson: Idea Man.

    I watched the documentary, Jim Henson: Idea Man yesterday. I found it incredibly moving. I re-read Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist frequently and just before watching the documentary, I was listening to the audiobook. One of the sections in the book urges you to “climb your own family tree,” picking a creative whose work you admire and learning about the work that influenced them. I often struggle with this part of things, with choosing who has influenced me.

    But watching the documentary, I distinctly saw the influence of Henson and his collaborators, especially writer Jerry Juhl and performer/director Frank Oz, on my own artistic and comedic sensibilities. Here’s an example:

    This structure, wherein Fozzie gives Kermit instructions that Kermit then follows far too literally, with Kermit increasing in his manic energy and Fozzie increasing in his frustration, is the bedrock of at least 50% or maybe more of my bits as an improv performer. A parallel structure:

    Both of these are Henson and Oz, both with Oz as the straight man and Henson as the manic player. I adore this dynamic. So. Jim Henson. That’s the creative tree branch I’ll climb first.

    The documentary itself is lovely. If you’re a Henson nerd (as I am), you’ll be delighted that there’s Sam and Friends and advertising footage that I don’t think you can find anywhere else. The narrative thrust is that Henson was a figure not unlike Lin Manuel Miranda’s interpretation of Alexander Hamilton, an artist with incredible drive and the sense that there would never be enough time to do everything he wanted to do, so he had to be doing work all the time. It does a good job honoring the importance of Henson’s work while honestly portraying the cost this had to his family. His son Brian Henson talks about the very different experience of being his son at home versus being his colleague working on Labyrinth.

    A lot of the time narratives about Henson talk about the critical failure of Labyrinth destroying his confidence, but this documentary did a great job emphasizing that even in the face of that failure, his work continued: in the years after Labyrinth he created Fraggle Rock, The Storyteller, and The Jim Henson Hour.

    Overall, I think the documentary does a good job of showing that Henson was an ambitious artist with an incredible legacy and was, at the same time, just a human. I found it incredibly moving.

    Here are a couple of fun links about Henson’s Kermit Car:

    Personal Publishing and The Coney Island Problem

    Here are a pair of blog posts that ended up in conversation with each other in my brain because I read them both this morning in quick succession.

    CJ Chilvers asks, “What’s with the hostility towards personal publishing?

    And it’s almost as if Seth Godin answers, “The Coney Island problem.”

    Chilvers says:

    our innate trust in individuals over brands will determine the winners of both attention and revenue. Everyone in media should be racing to become a trusted individual right now.

    and Godin points out:

    We’d like to believe that we prefer to walk down the picturesque street, visiting one merchant after another, buying directly from the creator or her gallery. We’d like to think that the centralized antiseptic option isn’t for us… And yet, when the supermarche opens in rural France, it does very well. It turns out that we respond well to large entities that pretend that they’re simply a conglomeration of independent voices and visions, but when masses of people are given a choice, they’re drawn to the big guy, not the real thing.

    Where does this leave personal publishing and blogging? I’m not sure. But I think it’s an interesting question and an interesting thing to think about. I suppose a lot of it comes back to that old question, why blog? Are we doing it for ourselves or for our readers? I find that even when I don’t mean to, I tend to blog for my future self. And future me would rather hear what past me has to say from me, rather than an LLM trained to sound like me and everyone else. That said, I am intrigued by the idea of training an LLM on my own diary and journal entries and blog posts and then having a conversation with my younger self, like Michelle Huang did. In fact, I think I’ll try it now.

    edited to add: I tried it, but because I don’t have a payment method in OpenAI it didn’t let me do it. Ah well. I guess I’ll just have to extrapolate from old blog posts and LiveJournal entries what a younger me would have said.

    Solstice tarot/oracle reading and baby shower planning

    I’m typing this blog post in Google Docs, because of its autosave feature. There’s probably a better way, but oh well. I kind of want to just type it in the Micro.blog compose box but I’m so afraid of losing it.

    Why am I so afraid of losing it? If I have to re-write a blog post, isn’t that kind of a feature rather than a bug? I don’t know. Maybe another day I’ll try typing directly into Micro.blog.

    I thought about writing my blog posts over at 750words but some days I might want to write fewer than 750 words and I shouldn’t let the desire or need to write less get in the way of writing at all.

    I look a three hour nap today. I lay down, set an alarm for when I needed to be awake to drive safely to pick the kid up from camp, and then told myself if I got up earlier, great, and surely I would get up earlier.

    I did not get up earlier.

    Lindsay Mack sent out a special email about Solstice Medicine with a Tarot spread for the solstice for artists, and I think I’ll do that spread in a little bit. I think I’ll use both the Moonchild Tarot AND the Ocean Dreams oracle deck maybe? I’m not sure.

    I might just do it with Ocean Dreams, even though it’s not a Tarot deck. Maybe I’ll try that and then see if I also want to pull out the Moonchild Tarot.

    I’ve decided that today is the day to handle All the Things related to my sister’s baby shower, which will be a week from tomorrow. I did a tour of the venue (which I’ve been to before both for a party and because it’s part of the site where M did preschool & kindergarten). I’m talking to my co-host and hopefully we’ll settle activities and food. I’ve got an Amazon cart full of decorations and tableware. The theme is Baby Dragons. The decor is adorable. I won’t be sad when it’s over. Party planning for more than 12 guests is apparently more than I feel good about these days.

    Rambling thoughts shared on the day of the solstice

    It’s the summer solstice and tomorrow we’ll have a Strawberry Moon.

    Here are some rambling thoughts on things that have captured my attention lately.

    I was saddened to hear of the death of Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, whose book Blue Mind I purchased as an impulse buy in the South Carolina Aquarium gift shop. The book is great and I look forward to reading the tenth anniversary edition when it’s released. I can’t figure out where I put my copy of it.

    Back in May I put a hold on the library copy of Adam Higginbotham’s book, Challenger: A True Story of Heroism and Disaster on the Edge of Space. I picked it up today.

    I’ll write a longer post about the book later, but I watched the failed Challenger launch out of my bedroom window. I was four years old. I remember the visual. I was in the habit of watching shuttle launches out of that window, and there were a lot of launches in the early and mid-80s. I lived about 34 miles away from Cape Canaveral as the crow flies. I don’t remember any other launch, of course.

    That launch has shaped my psyche in ways I’m still unpacking almost 40 years later, and when I saw that this book had been published and was well-reviewed, I wanted to read it because I wanted answers, answers beyond the technical, about what contributed to this event that has so shaped my thinking. Spiritual answers, even.

    About 30 pages into the book, I am seeing the beginnings of those answers, which tend to be the answers when we ask these kinds of questions about any human-made disaster: greed and hubris. Greed and hubris are the forces that bring about these kinds of disasters.

    More on this and my memories of Challenger after I’ve read more of the book or finished it if I decide to finish it. (It’s a doorstop and my attention span for non-fiction is limited lately.)

    I really like chocolate. I’m waiting to hear from some headache specialists that my doctor faxed a referral form to but it’s been many weeks, maybe even a couple months, so I might start looking for other options to discuss with her the next time we talk.

    I love my kid, my heart is so full, and seven-year-olds have big, big feelings,

    I feel like I’m only talking about stuff that isn’t the most fun here, but I am still loving reading romance, deriving great joy from the Fated Mates podcast and its Discord server, and I’m enjoying playing Harvest Moon for the SNES.

    📚 Book Review: You Should Be So Lucky by Cat Sebastian

    Austin Kleon introduced me to a newsletter issue in which director and writer Mark Slutsky talks about the feeling of being in good hands:

    I’ve come to trust a certain feeling that comes over me when I first make contact with a piece of art. The opening lines of a book; the first 30 seconds or so of a movie; bars of a song, etc. It is a feeling of being in good hands, an intuitive sense that the author knows what they are doing and that the experience will be worth my time.

    I felt this way as soon as I read the first sentence of Cat Sebastian’s We Could Be So Good:

    Nick Russo could fill the Sunday paper with reasons why he shouldn’t be able to stand Andy Fleming.

    I loved that book so much, so I was thoroughly psyched to get the chance to read an advanced reading copy for You Should Be So Lucky, a novel set in the same mid-20th-century America narrative world, about a grouchy, grieving arts reporter and the golden retriever/foulmouthed jerk baseball player whose slump the editor of Mark’s newspaper has tasked him with writing about. As often happens in a romance, these two knuckleheads learn, grow, and fall in love, not necessarily in that order.

    What I loved: So much. Woof. Hard to even think of how to explain it all. I’ll start by saying that mostly, I love these two characters, and most especially I love Mark, who is a snarky reporter with a squishy heart, who simultaneously so appreciates the way his deceased partner William made him feel worthwhile and loathes the way William’s political ambitions meant that they could never seem even at all possibly queer. I just love him so much. I imagine him as a young Trent Crimm (from Ted Lasso, in case you’re not familiar).

    I love Eddie, too, his inability to hide his feelings just ever. His willingness to throw caution to the wind and let his blossoming friendship with Mark just exist in the world without constantly looking over his shoulder about it. His beautiful relationship with his mother and his own bruised heart in the face of learning he was about to be traded to a team that would take him far from his home and everything he knew.

    What I wanted more of: Let’s be clear. There is nothing that I’m like, “Cat Sebastian didn’t do enough of that,” because Cat Sebastian is awesome. But let’s also be clear. I will read more of whatever Cat Sebastian wants to write, and if she wrote a lovely Christmas novella about Nick and Andy (from We Could Be So Good) and Mark and Eddie all being at a Christmas party together, I would read it so hard.

    What I need to warn you about: This book is about two dudes falling in love, so if you don’t want to read about that, skip it. There is some spice but the language isn’t very explicit. I’d say, medium-ish, maybe slightly less than medium spice? There are some of the kind of things that people usually want content warnings about: death of a partner before the book starts, period-appropriate homophobia, parents kicking a son out due to their own homophobia.

    Who should read this: People who want a romance with a lot of interiority, minimal conflict between the two main characters, people who like baseball mixed in with their love.

    The cover of the book ‘You Should Be So Lucky’ by Cat Sebastian features two illustrated characters against a blue background. On the left, a character wears a red and white baseball uniform with the team name ‘Robins’ across the chest, holding a baseball bat over one shoulder. On the right stands another character in brown period clothing, holding an open book in one hand and a microphone in the other. Behind them are line drawings that include baseball paraphernalia, architectural elements like columns and arches, and what appears to be the Statue of Liberty’s torch. At the bottom of the image is praise for Cat Sebastian from Olivia Waite, stating, ‘Cat Sebastian is my desert island author.’

    My Sister's Baby Is Not My Baby and My Sister Is Also Not My Baby

    My little sister M.E. is expecting a baby. Her due date is July 20. She’s 4 and a half years (and 4 days and 30 minutes) younger than me. She hasn’t had a baby before.

    I’ve never been an aunt before.

    When my mom was pregnant with M.E., I called my mom’s belly my belly. When the two of us lived with my dad for 6 months while he was working in North Carolina and my mom was finishing her undergrad at Florida State University, a lot of M.E.’s care became my responsibility by default. When our dad stayed in NC and the two of us returned to Florida to be with my mom while she did her Master’s coursework, I was still heavily contributing to M.E.’s care. During those years I was 8 and 9. She was 3, 4, and 5.

    If she has her baby on her due date, I will be 43 and she will be 38. She is very grown.

    I asked W. to help me remember that being a big sister and an aunt does not mean being a volunteer postpartum doula. I don’t trust that I won’t sacrifice my own health and my time with my own child in order to show up for her and her baby.

    Postpartum time is one of the most isolating times of life and I forget that when she is postpartum, I won’t also be immediately postpartum. (Because once you’re postpartum at all you are always postpartum, but being immediately postpartum is different.) I have ingrained anxiety that I will have to relive that time alongside her.

    The first few months postpartum were one of the most isolating times of my life and I don’t think I can take that away from her. Even if it were possible, I think it would be detrimental to my health to do so.

    I hate this distrust I have of myself, of my ability to hold boundaries. I hate that I feel like holding my boundaries will mean hurting her.

    It would be good for me to remember that I am not remotely the only person in her life who can show up for her. It would be good to remember that while I kind of was when we were kids, except for the things our parents did for her, I’m not now.

    My friend Josh died last week.

    My friend Josh died last week. He was only 32 and had already given the world so much. I’m angry on the world’s behalf at all the decades of Josh it should have had and won’t.

    We weren’t close but I love(d) him. When I announced to our improv team that I was pregnant, Josh started walking in front of me with his arms out whenever we were at the theater together, pretending to speak into an earpiece like he was my bodyguard.

    One time when I was working at UNC, I bumped into Josh running the campus cypher. I told him I’d just come from a conversation where I told someone my flow (as in, rapping) was passable. Josh, himself an incredible hip hop artist, scolded me. So I revised my self-conception: my flow is good enough for comedy.

    I sometimes fantasized about running across Josh at the city cypher after a night out at the movie theater around the corner from where the cypher happens. I wanted to introduce him to W.

    Josh was an educator and whenever I came across research on hip-hop pedagogy I would send it to him and he always made me feel like each time I did it I’d given him an exquisite gift.

    When he was 25 and I was 35, Josh asked me what advice I would give my 25-year-old self. I have no idea what I told him. I do remember being floored by the wisdom he showed in asking the question.

    I don’t have a conclusion to this.

    🗒️ Month Notes: March 2024

    March was a full month!

    Our local historic cinema shows retro films. W & I went to This Is Spinal Tap together. It turns out it’s still hilarious.

    We went as a family to My Neighbor Totoro. Totoro is M’s favorite movie. It was very special to see it on a big screen. I noticed some little things I had never noticed before, like how Mei echoes everything Satsuke says. ♥️ Little Sisters ♥️

    I often focus on the part of a movie that resonates with me, sometimes to the point of having seen a different movie than everyone else. Some time ago I read a blog post or article that I now can’t find about how My Neighbor Totoro can be read as a story about an eldest daughter’s responsibilities. With Satsuke and Mei’s mom being sick and their dad being at work a lot, this really resonated with my experience growing up and now all I see is a movie about a big sister who is parentalized and cares for her little sister. It’s a beautiful movie and if you read it this way, one of the sweetest bits is how Mei shares Totoro’s magic with Satsuke.

    We saw Adam Gidwitz speak at a local indie bookstore. I had a catch up call with a colleague from when I did my postdoc. That was lovely and if I’m smart, I’ll schedule more catch up calls and coffee dates.

    I had a preliminary Zoom interview for the school librarian job at M’s school. I felt good about it and it went well enough that I was invited for an on-campus interview.

    W and I saw Murder on the Orient Express at Playmakers Repertory Company. The set was a gorgeous art deco thing and the way they created the train was with these metal frames on wheels that the cast and crew could move around to indicate individual compartments or larger areas. The play itself was super fun. It’s a Ken Ludwig adaptation of the Agatha Christie story and definitely had a few moments where Ludwig’s voice popped up to remind you that this was by the same guy who wrote Lend Me a Tenor.

    From March 21 to 29, we were traveling. We flew to London, where we stayed in a flat near the Portobello Road Market, ate delicious buns, saw Matilda the Musical in the West End, and played at St. James’s Park. Then we went to Cork, where we saw the beautiful rolling hills of Ireland on our way from the airport to the city center and explored the very cute city center including a toy store, an old-fashioned Irish sweet shop, and the English Market. It wasn’t very long to have gone so far, and because of how we did the travel, four of our nine days were travel days. I did learn a lot about travel, mainly that it’s worth the extra money for direct flights if you have it.

    While we were gone, I developed a nasty productive cough, so when we got home I skipped our usual extended family Easter festivities.

    And that was March!

    📚 Baby’s First Author Event

    Let me be clear, when I say “baby,” I mean “big kid.” We took M to his first author event a couple weeks ago. It was awesome. Adam Gidwitz has a new book out. It’s called Max in the House of Spies. It’s about a German Jewish kid whose parents send him to London in 1939 and he falls in with British spies while he’s there. Also a dybbuk lives on one of his shoulders and a kobold lives on the other.

    We first encountered Adam Gidwitz because of his amazing podcast, Grim, Grimmer, Grimmest. (M’s favorite episode is Hans, My Hedgehog.) Gidwitz is a former teacher who now works as a storyteller and author. He’s written the A Tale Dark and Grimm series and the book The Inquisitor’s Tale, and he is the co-author of the Unicorn Rescue Society series. In that series, kids travel around the world saving different cryptids. For each book, Gidwitz teams up with an author who is a member of the culture that the kids are visiting. They’re super fun and a great way to learn about folklore around the world.

    Gidwitz talked about a family friend who had been one of the children sent away from Germany ahead of World War II and how the story of that friend inspired him to write this book. He said he felt it was an important book to write now because he thinks it’s an important time to look at Germany before the Nazis came to power and ask, what is it that makes the people of a country vote for leadership they know is wrong? What makes them willing to sacrifice justice for the promise of security? I think he’s absolutely right that these are key questions for our time.

    Gidwitz shared the story of how he became a writer: he wanted to teach his students about ancient Egypt and couldn’t find a book to go with the lessons, so he started to write one. He’d write a chapter, share it with his students, and then they’d say, “Then what happened?” He’d tell them, “I don’t know!” and go home to write the next chapter. With a lot of positive reinforcement from his students, Gidwitz decided to quit teaching and write full-time. He didn’t get an agent with the Egyptian book. (He called it a “burner book,” explaining that many authors have at least one book they write and learn a lot from but don’t get to publish.) But he did when he started digging into Grimm’s fairytales.

    Gidwitz is super entertaining and a great storyteller and doesn’t look anything like I imagined him. (I imagined him looking like Joshua Malina’s character, Jeremy, from Sports Night. I have no idea why.)

    After he talked about his books and answered questions for an hour, there was a signing. When we got up there, he told M., “You’re a lot younger than most of the kids here and I wasn’t sure how you would do while I was talking, but you did great.” (M. is average height but tiny with giant eyes so it’s easy to mistake him for younger than he is.)

    The image shows author Adam Gidwitz wearing a checkered shirt, sitting at a table and signing a book. There are multiple copies of the same book stacked neatly on the table, with a bottle of water beside them. In front of the individual, there are several spy pens wrapped in plastic packaging. Bookshelves filled with various books are visible in the background.

    📚 Why am I obsessed with romance fiction right now?

    Last May, I read Mr. and Mrs. Witch by Gwenda Bond, and it made me so happy that I decided to try exclusively reading romance for a while. From May to October, I read 16 romance novels. In October I took a break to read some gothic but quickly came back to romance, finishing out the year having read 22 romance novels and one romance anthology. This year, I continued the pattern. So far, I’ve read 17 romance novels this year. I talk about romance and think about romance a lot of the time. So why?

    First, social factors:

    Last June, The Good Trade published an article called What Romance Novels Taught Me About Taking Pleasure More Seriously and then in December a follow-up, How to Get Started Reading Romance Novels. This led me to the podcast Fated Mates and I joined their Patreon and Discord because I needed people to talk to about romance besides two of my friends and W.

    But that was after I’d already started to read romance more heavily. So why? Why romance?

    The obvious reason is that it’s an optimistic genre. Even in dark romance, the author or publisher has, by virtue of calling the book or story romance, promised that the characters who fall in love will end the book either living happily ever after or happy for now. Any problems on the horizon at the end are problems you know they will solve together. (And if you read something that the author or publisher has called romance that doesn’t have this feature, please let everyone know, so they won’t pick that book up expecting a HEA or HFN.) The world is big and scary and full of bad, and it can be comforting to know that you are going into a story where the people will end up with someone(s) who will support them.

    Another reason is that romance contains an immense variety of subgenres, which means if you’re a mood reader that you can probably find something you’re in the mood for. You’ve got contemporary, paranormal, historical (with its own subsubgenres based on period and geography), dark romance, fantasy romance, sci-fi romance, romantic suspense, romantic mystery, and many more. Likewise, romance is full of tropes that give books a flavor that make it easy to know if you’re likely to find it interesting: friends-to-lovers, enemies-to-lovers, billionaire, forced proximity, sibling’s best friend or best friend’s sibling, second chance, fated mates, fake dating, and again, many more.

    It’s also because, like sci-fi and fantasy, romance lets you tackle difficult topics in a way where you know that characters will be supported in working through these. Here is an incomplete list of difficult topics the romance I’ve read since last year has touched on:

    • anxiety
    • depression
    • gang conflict
    • family illness
    • chronic illness
    • homophobia
    • truly awful parenting
    • arranged marriage
    • transphobia
    • top surgery (difficult because of medical processes described in detail)
    • war
    • anti-Muslim harassment
    • well-meaning people being casually super prejudiced
    • the cost of a bad reputation

    And I tend to read stuff on the lighter side.

    And then there are things that are unique about romance: its focus on interiority and emotion, on women’s and non-binary people’s pleasure, the way it places relationships at the heart of stories.

    I’m sure there are more reasons, too. Do you read romance? Why?

    🗒️ Month Notes, February 2024

    Lars-Christian noted that month notes work better than week notes for him due to the cadence of his life, and I think this will be true for me, too. So! I’ll be trying month notes for a little while and reevaluate if they start to feel off.

    Early this month was rough, as both M and W had pinkeye. I had respiratory symptoms and felt quite miserable but managed to dodge the accompanying eye infection.

    We booked a beach condo for a week vacation this year. For almost 20 years, W and I, and then M when he came along, have spent a week at a beach condo owned by W’s bonus mom Cindy and her sister. When Cindy died, W’s dad inherited her part of the condo. But he hates the beach and Cindy’s sister didn’t go down there much, and the property taxes, bills, and maintenance for the space were very expensive. So they decided to sell it, which meant we needed to find a new place to stay for our beach week.

    We had hoped to go with another family and get a big house but that didn’t work out, so we found a condo at a beach a little closer to our home than the old one and have a contract to rent it for a week in June. We’ll see how it goes.

    I started doing Leonie Dawson’s 40 Days to a Finished Book course. (If you buy the course through that link, I will receive a commission.) I’m writing a little booklet about how to be a better player in tabletop role-playing games, because there’s a lot of advice out there for game masters but only a little for players. I set a target of 10,000 words total. This means I have a very manageable daily goal of 250 words, which so far I’ve been able to for 20 days. When I hit 5000 words early, I worried I didn’t have anything left to say on the topic. I decided to just freewrite the other 5000 words and try to make it all make sense when I’m done. I can write 250 words in 5 or 10 minutes, so this is a really doable practice that I hope to keep up even after the 40 days are over.

    On Valentine’s Day, W and I had an early dinner and coffee together. We began answering The Good Trade’s 99 Questions To Ask Your Partner To Get To Know Them Better. The questions are clearly written for young couples who haven’t been together very long, not couples who have been married for 15 years and together for 25. But they were still fun to answer.

    One of M’s school mates from kindergarten and preschool had a maritime-themed birthday party at a local park and that was super fun as well as being an opportunity to catch up with some of those kids' parents whom I haven’t seen in a while.

    W and I saw Fat Ham at Playmakers Repertory Company. It was super fun with a stellar cast. We also went to Clue the Movie at the [Retro Film Series[(https://carolinatheatre.org/series/retro-film-series/), which is always a delight.

    I had an eye exam. I learned that my eyesight has only gotten a little worse over the past year. I ordered new glasses that look almost exactly like my old ones except they have a narrower frame width so they should fit better, plus some fun prescription sunglasses.

    I played Super Mario Bros 1 through 3 and started Ocarina of Time. W and I have been watching Home Economics and it’s a delight, but it makes me wonder how much TV writers know about how publishing works. I’ve been tearing my way through the Immortals After Dark series at a pace of two books a week and listening to the accompanying episodes of the [Fated Mates[(https://fatedmates.net/) podcast, plus hanging out in the Fated Mates Discord a lot.

    I’m almost done organizing our pantry. I’m planning to eat down what we’ve got in the pantry, fridge, and freezer, and then try eating from the Real Easy Weekdays plan.

    I think that’s about it for me for February. What have you been up to?

    Taking a break from academia

    I’m taking a deliberate break from all things academia and academia-adjacent.

    I spent the past 2 years working on a big project as the key academic personnel on the project. It’s not done; when my contract ended, I had to hand it off to my colleagues. (We couldn’t extend the contract for administrative reasons.)

    I’m sitting on a couple of freelance academic opportunities but as I think about pursuing them, I know it’s just not time yet. I can feel internal resistance and it’s telling me that after being in an academic headspace for more than 8 years, it’s time to do something different for a while.

    Do I plan to come back to these freelance gigs and be available for academic contract work in the future? Yes. Do I plan to return to FanLIS and fan studies more broadly after I fill my well? Absolutely! But right now, that’s not where I’m at.

    It’s kind of like taking a sabbatical.

    🗒️ Week Notes, 2024, Weeks 3 through 5: A Link to the Past and Link’s Awakening Are Super Fun

    It’s three weeks’ worth of week notes at once!

    My son M’s school has a “Day On” on Martin Luther King, Jr. day. They choose a theme for the day and hold a celebration where the whole school community, including parents, is welcome, and then spend the second half of the day on service projects. Our family only did the celebration part of the day this year, but next year I plan for us to help with the part of the day where you sort book donations to Book Harvest. I’m also planning to join the celebration for the choir next year.

    The theme for this year was “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” The choir sang 3 songs I love: “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” “Heal the World,” and “Stand By Me.” Middle and high school students read poems they had written. Pauli Murray’s niece and biographer Rosita Stevens-Holsey was the keynote speaker and shared wonderful insight into Rev. Dr. Murray’s life and work. I was so happy to have attended.

    At the end of that week, I took a quick overnight trip to Baltimore to present at the American Library Association LibLearnX conference. In the end, my session was less a presentation or workshop and more a conversation, as we only had about 5 people attending. We were able to really customize the conversation to the participants’ interest. My BFF lives near Baltimore, so I got to have dinner with her the night before the presentation and hang out with her after, when we went to the Edgar Allan Poe house and wandered around a cute shopping area.

    After I got home from that trip, I was exhausted and then a little bit sick, too. So I rested a lot and had a pretty quiet week.

    Then this past week was more quiet time at home and handling administrative stuff like having my car inspected and renewing the registration, rescheduling a dental appointment I canceled due to a migraine, and completing the job application to be the half-time school librarian at M’s school.

    It was a good time for consuming culture. I’ve been reading romance novels, The Age of Cage, and How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are. I watched Emily in Paris. I played A Link to the Past, which is phenomenal and deserves its status as a classic, and the Switch remake of Link’s Awakening, which is super fun.

    Saturday M developed a nasty case of pinkeye. He’s on his second day home from school and on antibiotics for it and seems to be improving.

    That’s it for this post!

    📚 Reading Notes: A Quaker Book of Wisdom by Robert Lawrence Smith, Chapter 9, “Education”

    …a good school is one that is constantly engaged in self-examination, in improving itself, in becoming wiser in its ability to both teach and inspire.

    Smith returns to this idea many times in this chapter. Every school I’ve worked at had some sort of process for this, but Smith says that in a Quaker school, everyone in the school is involved in this process. In the public schools where I’ve worked, there was always a School Improvement Team (PDF). This is basically a committee and it consists entirely of adults. Students aren’t on the SIT. Further, as you might expect in a public school, the success of the School Improvement Team and the School Improvement Plan is evaluated based almost entirely on students’ scores on standardized tests, which to my mind is an incomplete measure of learning.

    It’s a school that is intent on turning out good people who will help make a better world.

    At the beginning of every school year, M’s teachers have us complete a survey and one of the questions is always about our hopes for the school year. We always answer that we want him to grow into himself and to continue to learn how to be a caring member of our community. I love this idea. While I suspect most teachers in most schools have this in mind as their intention, the systems and structures of compulsory public education, at least in North Carolina when I was working in public schools, tended to focus on performance in a few academic subject areas and compliance with school policies. I like the idea of a whole school taking this approach, rather than only individual teachers.

    It’s the soul of a school—its intangible persona, its character, its principles, its daily life over time, the impressions it makes, the efforts it inspires, and the moral authority it possesses—that helps mold a child into an educated, assured, humane, and caring adult.

    Yes! Especially the daily life over time: how we spend our moments is how we spend our days is how we spend our years is how we spend our life. The life of a school is in the day-to-day.

    At a good school teachers and students are jointly engaged in a search for truth…

    This jibes well with a school librarian’s focus on inquiry-driven learning.

    Teachers… work to provide a climate of sensitivity to the human condition.

    This is so critical. When I was a student teacher and first set foot in my mentor teacher’s classroom, I was appalled by what seemed to me to be an out-of-control class with absolutely no attention paid to Latin, the class’s subject matter. (I was 22 and I like to think I’m less judgy now.) By the end of my four months in student teaching, my perspective had totally transformed: I saw that my mentor teacher was more concerned with supporting her students than with a laser focus on their academic achievement, and that her love and support was a critical foundation before they could have academic success.

    Without input from people of differing life experiences and cultures, a school quickly becomes insular and intellectually stagnant.

    It seems obvious but it’s absolutely necessary to say.

    …moments of silence help students center themselves amidst the hubbub of the school day.

    To quote the Carolina Friends School website:

    Settling In and Out
    We use this Quaker practice of shared silence as a meaningful way to make oneself present in the moment, focus or redirect attention, and create a shared energy and sense of intention with a community.

    Back to the book…

    Another characteristic of Quaker schools is that they have involved students in community service at all grade levels.

    Experimental education is the name of the game in Quaker schools, and they are constantly cooking up new ways of doing things.

    And what’s probably my favorite quote from the chapter:

    There is no formula for imparting love of learning. Despite new methodologies, there must always be reliance on the old virtues of skills, care, love, patience, and time.

    Care, love, patience, and time are all things that the structures of public schools make it hard for teachers to prioritize, though I bet most teachers would love to be able to prioritize them.

    🗒️ Week Notes, 2024 Week 2: Zelda II is skippable

    It’s time for another round of Week Notes!

    Monday morning I had my usual coffee work date with my friend C. I worked on my session for LibLearnX, which is the last bit of work related to my postdoc besides reviewing document drafts as my colleagues finish them.

    Tuesday I took M to the dentist for a cleaning. It was a super rainy day, with high winds, so I ended up picking him up early. But we came through the storm okay.

    Wednesday, I planned with my LibLearnX co-presenters and as so often happens, we came up with something way better together than anything I could’ve created on my own.

    M had musical theater dance class on Thursday and I went to a nearby cafe and puttered in Scrivener with a romance novel spark sheet. Just sitting down and typing really moved me forward, so now I have two characters, each with their own self-doubt, to put in a situation where they can fall in love, build each other up, and help each other grow.

    Friday and Saturday we’re very chill days at home, and on Sunday W and I went for lunch at an old favorite diner and ambled around one of our many local independent bookstores before picking up a cookbook I’d ordered online and returning home.

    I read two forthcoming releases last week, The Frame-Up by Gwenda Bond and Love Requires Chocolate by Ravynn K. Stringfield. I actually Internet-know both of these authors, Gwenda Bond from way back in our kidlitosphere days circa 2007 and Ravynn because she taught a workshop I took on creative nonfiction for academics. Both books made me happy and I’m reading at a pace of 2 books a week, which is twice as fast as a typical fast reading pace for me. We’ll see how my reading pace changes throughout the year.

    By myself I watched It’s Complicated, The Intern, and Heartburn. This is because the main character in Timothy Janovsky’s Never Been Kissed is a film guy who wore a G is for Gerwig shirt from Super Yaki. I decided I wanted to know film better and that just going through the oeuvres of auteurs featured on Super Yaki would be a great way to do it, so I’m starting with Nancy Meyers and Nora Ephron.

    W and I have been watching Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty together. It’s his third time watching and my first. It’s a lot of fun. John C. Reilly is incredibly winning.

    I tried playing Zelda II: The Adventure of Link but I didn’t find it fun. After reading this article in Escapist Magazine, which said

    If you’re anything like me, you’re going to die in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. A lot. And chances are you won’t have a great time doing it.

    And

    If you’re intent on trying it out in 2023, I recommend either playing the SP version on Nintendo Switch that starts you off fully powered up, watching a playthrough on YouTube, or just skipping it…

    I decided first to try the SP version, then when that still wasn’t fun, to watch someone else play on YouTube. Even that wasn’t fun, so I skipped ahead and just watched the last couple of fights.

    Having done that, I started playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and I’m having a blast with that.

    That’s it for this Week Note!

    Book Review: The Frame-Up by Gwenda Bond

    The thing about Gwenda Bond is that she’ll take your favorite microgenre or trope, mix some magic in, and give you a whole new story to enjoy. Which is exactly what she does with The Frame-Up. She takes an art heist story and adds in magic powers that make people good at their roles: mastermind, hacker, and more.

    But Gwenda’s website tagline for a while was “High Concept with Heart,” and even more than the magic, the heart is what really makes The Frame-Up shine. This is a story about a daughter dealing with the fallout of betraying her mother and learning how to be right with herself whether or not her mother ever forgives her.

    Here’s the publisher’s description:

    A magically gifted con artist must gather her estranged mother’s old crew for a once-in-a-lifetime heist, from the author of Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds.

    Dani Poissant is the daughter and former accomplice of the world’s most famous art thief, as well as being an expert forger in her own right. The secret to their success? A little thing called magic, kept rigorously secret from the non-magical world. Dani’s mother possesses the power of persuasion, able to bend people to her will, whereas Dani has the ability to make any forgery she undertakes feel like the genuine article.

    At seventeen, concerned about the corrupting influence of her mother’s shadowy partner, Archer, Dani impulsively sold her mother out to the FBI—an act she has always regretted. Ten years later, Archer seeks her out, asking her to steal a particular painting for him, since her mother’s still in jail. In return, he will reconcile her with her mother and reunite her with her mother’s old gang—including her former best friend, Mia, and Elliott, the love of her life.

    The problem is, it’s a nearly impossible job—even with the magical talents of the people she once considered family backing her up. The painting is in the never-before-viewed private collection of deceased billionaire William Hackworth—otherwise known as the Fortress of Art. It’s a job that needs a year to plan, and Dani has just over one week. Worse, she’s not exactly gotten a warm welcome from her former colleagues—especially not from Elliott, who has grown from a weedy teen to a smoking-hot adult. And then there is the biggest puzzle of all: why Archer wants her to steal a portrait of himself, which clearly dates from the 1890s, instead of the much more valuable works by Vermeer or Rothko. Who is her mother’s partner, really, and what does he want?

    What I loved

    The art, honestly. Great descriptions of art and art periods. Dani is a character with a clear love and respect for the art she forges. The heist crew vibes: everybody’s got their role and while Dani is working with her mom’s estranged team, there is still love there between herself and Mia and Elliott, the two other members of the team close to her age. The intense interiority: always seeing inside Dani’s heart, her desire for her mother’s approval, her regret about her past actions. Most of all, Dani’s sweet dog Sunflower.

    What I need to warn you about

    Not much here, except there are some really garbage parents and their adult kids are dealing with the repercussions of having been raised by such rotten people.

    What I wanted more of

    I mean, I would read a lot more heists with this crew, so… Sequels?

    Who should read this

    People who like fantasy set in our world. People who like heists and secrets. People who like paintings. People who like reading about fancy rich folks. People who like reading about Kentucky. People who like border collies.

    Book: The Frame-Up
    Author: Gwenda Bond
    Publisher: Del Rey
    Publication Date: February 13, 2024
    Pages: 352
    Age Range: Adult
    Source of Book: ARC via NetGalley

    A colorful book cover for “The Frame-Up” by Gwenda Bond, featuring illustrations of a man holding a framed artwork, a woman stealing a painting, and an observing dog. The title and the author’s name are written in large red and white letters. There is also a quote from Holly Black praising the book.

    And, the answer is ...

    Following Alex’s lead, I’m answering some questions.

    Best sandwich? I don’t like having to choose but I really like a good roast beef with provolone on a roll. But there are many other excellent sandwiches.

    What’s one thing you own that you really should throw out? .

    What is the scariest animal? Aside from humans, grizzly bears.

    Apples or oranges? Apples, preferably honeycrisp.

    Have you ever asked someone for their autograph? I have but I think only at the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Posting Board Parties.

    What do you think happens when we die? I like to believe that whatever we each imagine will happen to us is what will happen, that we create our own afterlives. I’m personally planning to be a ghost and haunt my kid and descendants, lovingly.

    Favourite action movie? Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    Favourite smell? Baking.

    Least favourite smell? Rotting flesh.

    Exercise: worth it? Yes but it can be hard with chronic illness, if you have chronic pain or post exertional malaise. If you have those, you have to be choosy with how you do it.

    Flat or sparkling? Sparkling.

    Most used app on your phone? Firefox.

    You get one song to listen to for the rest of your life: what is it? A random track from Brian Eno’s Music for Airports.

    What number am I thinking of? I don’t know, but I’m thinking of 7.

    Describe the rest of your life in 5 words? Underslept reading heart-full mom.

    Now, give us your answers.

    🗒️ Week Notes, 2024 Week 1: Beautiful dragons in crystal forests

    I do so like when other people, like @cygnoir, write week notes, so I thought I’d give it a try.

    On New Year’s Day, my little household made our way over to my parents' house for chili and board games. We played Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza, a cute party game. We also played Chutes & Ladders: Marvel Super Hero Squad, because that is the one game M will play by the actual rules.

    We watched Beware the Groove, a documentary my brother made about the making of The Emperor’s New Groove. It’s super cool and I’m proud of him. If you like The Emperor’s New Groove, animation, or movies in general, you should try it out.

    M was back on campus Tuesday for a day camp before school officially started on Wednesday. Tuesday evening, I attended a webinar about Quaker education. M attends a Quaker school and I really hope to work there, so this was a very valuable session for me to attend.

    Wednesday, I had the last team meeting for my postdoc. The report we’ve been working on for a long time is still in progress. My colleagues will be finishing it. (This is a useful example of the impact of funding: the people who wrote the grant had originally written my postdoc as a 3 year postdoc, but when the program officer told them they needed to cut costs in their proposal, they cut the third year. And now there’s no one whose job it is to work on the project full-time anymore, so it has to take a back seat to other projects.)

    I’ll be first author on the report whenever it’s actually published, so that’s nice.

    Thursday was a quiet day. M resumed his musical theater dance class, which he started only because a friend was doing it but now says he really enjoys.

    Friday was another quiet day. Which is good, because Saturday was a big day!

    We went to the NC Chinese Lantern Festival. It’s always beautiful, but this year was extra magical because in honor of the Year of the Dragon, there were many beautiful dragons hanging out in crystal forests.

    Large Chinese lanterns: a dragon and a crystal forest

    There were also a lot of Monkey King-themed lanterns.

    To get a sense of the whole experience, take a look at the online program.

    Sunday was another quiet day which was literally sorely needed, as my body didn’t like me asking it to do so much walking around at the festival, so Sunday was a high pain day. (It’s also possible there was some unexpected corn flour in something I ate.)

    And that’s week 1 of 2024!

    My Reading Year 2023

    Some notes on my reading year 2023. I read 47 books. I overwhelmingly read romance, much more than any other genre. I have no regrets about that. There wasn’t a single book this year that stood out as more of a favorite than the rest.

    We Could Be So Good is the one that grabbed me from the first sentence.

    Mr. & Mrs. Witch is the one that set me on my path of reading mostly romance.

    Dept. of Speculation is probably the one I read fastest.

    I don’t finish books I wouldn’t recommend, so try whatever on this list looks good to you!

    For Never & Always How to Excavate a Heart Kiss Her Once for Me You're a Mean One, Matthew Prince In the Event of Love Eight Kisses Written in the Stars Her Body and Other Parties Future Tense The Blazing World The Hacienda The Haunting of Hill House The Turn of the Screw The Fall of the House of Usher We Could Be So Good An Island Princess Starts a Scandal From Bad to Cursed Payback's a Witch Chef's Kiss Solomon's Crown The Enchanted Hacienda The House in the Cerulean Sea The Neighbor Favor Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries Red, White & Royal Blue Nimona Ana María and The Fox The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches Hana Khan Carries On You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty Ayesha at Last The Widow of Rose House Wyngraf Demon in the Wood Graphic Novel Flowers from the Storm Mr. & Mrs. Witch Guards! Guards! A Spindle Splintered Dept. of Speculation Never Say You Can't Survive Bloodmarked Amsterdam The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet Piranesi The Hate U Give Hell Bent The Mysterious Affair at Styles Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy Book 2) Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy Book 1)

    How I talk about books online 📚

    In today’s issue of Happy Dancing, Charlie Jane Anders writes about how to fix GoodReads to avoid people review-bombing books to lower their ratings.

    I haven’t used GoodReads in a long time but Anders brings up a point that has me wanting to share how I write about books online. Anders shares an anecdote about losing a bunch of star ratings on songs in iTunes and then switching to a simple love/don’t love system, then says:

    And I feel like with books, it’s pretty similar. Did you like this book or not? Would you recommend it to your friends? Would you look out for more books by this author in future? The important questions are all yes or no.

    And this is how I tend to share books when I’m writing about them quickly.

    If I loved a book, I’ll end my short post with “Highly recommend.” If I like it, I’ll just share that I finished it and maybe a brief description. If I don’t like it, I probably didn’t finish it, and I probably won’t post about it at all.

    When I write a full review, I share a summary, what I loved, what I wanted more of, what I need to warn you about, and who should read the book. I only write this kind of review about books I would recommend.

    Since 2007 I’ve had a policy of only publishing positive reviews on my website and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

    📝 Planning Writing Goals with Kate McKean

    Kate McKean’s Agents and Books newsletter yesterday includes a flowchart to help you plan writing goals for next year.

    I’m in the “I need a new idea” bubble, or rather, I have lots of ideas fragments but I’m not psyched enough to write any of them yet so I want to hoard even more ideas. So my goals are to:

    1. Read more. Sure, I’ve read 41 books this year but I know I can read more. Let’s have a loose, gentle goal of 50, counting audiobooks, comics, kids' books, everything.

    2. Journal and blog. I’m going to do at least some of Esmé Weijun Wang’s Rawness of Remembering: Restorative Journaling Through Difficult Times. I’ve also got Austin Kleon’s The Steal Like an Artist Journal and Leigh Bardugo’s The Severed Moon. So I’ll look to those for help, and of course I’ll blog, too. I’m not setting a specific blogging goal but let’s say I’m shooting for some form of long-form journaling at least once a week.

    3. Have fun. If I’m doing 1 & 2 and it’s not fun, I’ll figure out how to make it fun.

    ❤️ The loss of a loved one 🦋

    CW: Parental Death

    My husband, W., has been blessed to have two mothers: the one who gave birth to him and the one who has been a constant presence since his birth as a friend of his parents and who married his dad after his dad and mom divorced. This bonus mom, as I call her, is named Cindy, and she died last Wednesday after a lengthy and unidentified illness.

    Her sister wrote a beautiful obituary for her that does a great job capturing her beautiful spirit. It’s especially hard to lose Cindy right around the holidays, as so much of their magic has been fueled by her beautiful energy and hard work.

    I know that I’m in the midst of grieving my dead when they come to me in dreams. I had a dream on Thursday night that my little household was traveling with Cindy (a thing we actually did sometimes, whether in Scotland or South Carolina). It was a super normal travel experience and a super normal dream and I woke happy to have had such a boring dream about her.

    I’ve been thinking through little moments that make Cindy who she is (and as she lives on in our hearts it’ll be a while before I use past tense to talk about her), and I might write about it later.

    In the meantime, I’ve been thinking through all the little holiday things I can learn from her to make this time special.

    A timeline of my dissertation inspiration📓📝

    For AcWriMoments Day 8, Margy Thomas and Helen Sword encouraged us to trace a lineage of the ideas we work on. I decided to do this with my dissertation because I knew it would be fun, but I didn’t realize how fun.

    1984 Kimberly’s mom makes a gorgeous Blue Fairy (from Pinocchio) costume for Kimberly, launching a lifelong delight in dressing up in exquisite costumes (as opposed to whatever’s lying around) and admiring the exquisite costumes of others. Around the same time, Kimberly’s parents take her to the library often.

    1988 Kimberly’s dad starts library school. Kimberly hangs out at the library school, a lot. She loves it there.

    1994 A guidance counselor who is completely at a loss for what extracurriculars to recommend when she asks Kimberly what she’s into and Kimberly answers, “Reading,” suggests volunteering at the library, so Kimberly does.

    1999 W. (then-boyfriend, now-husband) introduces Kimberly to Final Fantasy, a lovely video game series with gorgeous music. O., the then-boyfriend now-husband of one of W.’s housemates, says to Kimberly while they’re in the middle of playing some board game, “You should be a librarian.”

    2007 Completely stressed out by being an early career high school teacher, Kimberly starts researching library schools.

    2008 W. comes home from work and tells Kimberly that his current boss has inspired him to go to library school so they’re going to library school together.

    2009 Kimberly and W. start library school. Kimberly’s advisor is Sandra. Kimberly loves Sandra. Kimberly gets a job as an RA in an outreach program of the School of Education, providing resources and professional development to K-12 educators. (Resources from this department saved her bacon many times when she was a teacher.)

    2011 Kimberly gets a job as a school librarian split between two middle schools.

    2012 Kimberly’s supervisor from her RA job tells Kimberly, “I’m taking a different job so they’ll be posting this one eventually if you want it.” Kimberly does. The school librarian situation she’s found herself in isn’t what she dreamed of. Eventually Kimberly gets that job and starts working for that outreach program full-time.

    2013 Kimberly starts working on projects where she gets to interview teachers about their work. Her office is down the hall from where the School of Ed hosts all of their brown bags and she goes to a lot of them. She decides she wants to pursue a PhD so she can understand what they’re talking about better and maybe publish research about educators', including school librarians', good work. She figures she’ll do it part time with the tuition remission she gets as a benefit of her job.

    2014 The executive director of the outreach program is fired. (Without cause as far as Kimberly knows.) Kimberly decides that instead of doing the PhD part-time, she’d like to do it full-time, since her program is probably going to be dismantled. She talks to Sandra about the PhD program where she got her master’s in library science and says she wants to work on the library as a place for writing and pop culture engagement. Sandra says there’s a model for this and it’s called Connected Learning. Kimberly applies to the PhD.

    2015 Sandra invites Crystle Martin, a scholar of connected learning and leader in the Young Adult Library Services Association, to talk to students at the library school and invites Kimberly to come to the talk and then join them for lunch. Kimberly and Crystle talk about spending way too much time playing video games.

    2016 - 2017 Kimberly messes around with different dissertation possibilities. She includes a chapter on gaming and libraries in her comps plan.

    2017 Kimberly decides to go to Cosplay America, a costuming convention.

    2018 Kimberly starts work on the gaming comps chapter. She attends a Final Fantasy orchestral concert. People have dressed up in gorgeous costumes as characters from the games. They’re so great it kind of makes her want to cry. The next day, she reads Crystle’s dissertation about the information literacy practices of World of Warcraft players. In the conclusion, Crystle suggests that people could replicate her methods to help validate her information literacy model. Kimberly thinks, “I could do that, but with cosplayers!” She bangs out a dissertation prospectus in 2 hours after literal years of hemming and hawing.

    2019 Kimberly writes her comps, now with a changed set of chapters. She assembles her committee, including Crystle. She writes a blog post about the process and uses a Final Fantasy screenshot in it. She writes and defends her comps. She writes her proposal in November for AcWriMo. She attends a local con and introduces herself to the cosplay guests, telling them she may contact them to participate in her dissertation.

    2020 Kimberly defends her proposal. In freaking February. She has this whole plan that involves going to conventions to talk to cosplayers. AHAHAHAHA. There are no conventions. But she interviews the cosplayers over Zoom.

    2020-2021 Kimberly conducts research, scales her design way back, conducts more research, writes, defends, and graduates. She applies for a postdoc at the Connected Learning Lab, where Crystle worked when they first met. She gets the job.

    2022-present Kimberly hasn’t touched the cosplay work in a long time but has worked on connected learning in libraries for the whole postdoc.

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